29 October 2014

A Cigar you can Bank on



Bankable cigars.  I'm not even sure what that means.  But it's patented and belonged to the N. N. Smith Company out of Frankfort, Indiana.  In a recent research project in Lebanon, just down the road from Frankfort, I came across a handsome building near its courthouse square that had the company name engraved high above its entry.


I had never heard of the company before, and so I went googling, as I often do just to see what's out there while researching and suddenly a number of photos of old cigar boxes popped up.  Mr. Noah Smith's "bankable cigar" was patented in 1917.  He built a cigar manufacturing facility in Frankfort in 1919, "the Bankable Building", and then expanded with a second building, remarkably similar to his Frankfort plant, in Lebanon in about 1926.  The production capacity of the company reached 125,000 cigars daily.  That just seems crazy.

Smith sold his interest to an intermediate manufacturer, until it was sold again to a firm known as the National Cigar Company in 1943.  That company began production of a few cigar lines with names tied to Indiana including the "Lincoln Highway" and the "Hoosier Poet" which featured James Whitcomb Riley on the box.  The company still exists in Frankfort, running production out of the old Bankable Building:  http://www.broadleafcigars.com/tour.htm.

I can't help but think of my grandpa and the smell of cigar smoke writing this one.

22 October 2014

Hymn 520 in the 900th Post


Earlier this year my aunt handed down to me a few family heirlooms, books mostly, that belonged to my Moore ancestors.  Of the small collection, the oldest is a chunky little book of Methodist hymns printed in 1829 from the collection  of John Wesley.  It is well-worn with a leather cover and tiny print.  There are a total of 606 hymns packed into this tiny book, of which I know but a small handful-maybe a half-dozen.  There is no music, only lyrics, which causes me to wonder what the unknown hymns sound like.  It makes me imagine my great x4 grandfather, Andrew Moore, standing and leading his congregation from this little book on the edge of the Indiana prairie in the 1830s.

Scouring the index for hymns I would know, I noticed that they are categorized into themes including birthdays, funerals, and Christmas.  And since this is my birthday-time-of-the-year, I thought I would include one of the two birthday hymns in my blog post today.  So, in celebrating 46 years in this my 900th post, a hymn I make my prayer.

Hymn 520, verses 1, 3, 6
Rev. Kingsworth

God of my life, to Thee
My cheerful soul I raise!
Thy goodness bade me be,
And still prolongs my days
I see my natal hour return,
And bless the day that I was born.

Long as I live beneath,
To Thee O let me live!
To Thee my every breath
In thanks and praises give!
Whate'er I have, whate'er I am,
Shall magnify my Maker's Name.

Then when the work is done,
The work of faith and power,
Receive thy favour'd son,
In death's triumphant hour,
Like Moses to thyself convey,
And kiss my raptur'd soul away.

15 October 2014

the Orchard

The first two (and only two) apples produced from Sycamore Hill Orchard this year-they tasted better than they looked
When I was a kid, the months of September and October came with the expectation that not less than a few days would be spent at Lemert's Orchard, just south of Teegarden, Indiana, picking apples with my grandfather.  Gramps set up a crate-making assembly line in the garage at the truckstop and often traded the crates he built for apples at Lemerts.  I recall riding in the back of his pick-up to the orchard and back, some 15 miles round-trip....something you can't do today.  And I recall stopping briefly at the cider press at the orchard farmstead and drinking amber goodliness out of an old tin cup they had strung to the press.  Recently I came across one of the crates gramps made, that my dad had placed on the brush pile, its in my garage now.

A few of last year's peach crop-none this year
When we moved to Sycamore Hill I determined to set out a small orchard for ourselves.  A year later we placed a dozen trees in the ground....and, with fierce competition from the deer, most survived.  Last year we picked a full bushel basket off the peach tree, and this year-which was pitiful for fruit crops-we pulled the first apples from a tree (2 apples to be exact).  The grape vines I set out are doing exceptionally well-our second season of canning juice completed last month.

2013 vintage grape juice
Last week I visited a friend in Culver and our conversation turned to the orchard industry that was thriving on the east shore of Lake Maxinkuckee during most of the 20th century, right up until the last decade.  One remnant orchard remains along 18th Road, the trees unpruned and now competing for room against an onslaught of brush filling the once neatly mowed paths of the orchard.  Since I have a project in that area that revolves around the old Lake Maxinkuckee Orchard, my curiosity was piqued when he started asking questions about an old foundation on what was once the Vonnegut Orchard.  So we took a long hike and found what appears to be the foundation of a caretakers cottage built about 100 years ago.  The cottage would have looked out over the vast orchard once managed by the Vonnegut (yes, Kurt Vonnegut) family who summered at the lake.

Believed to be the caretaker's cottage steps on the former Vonnegut Orchard
Standing there, imagining what it must have looked like, smelled like, hearkened back for me days standing in the midst of Lemerts Orchard, taking a big bite out of a Yellow Delicious and letting the juice run down my arm.  Years later, something in me still wanted that experience so I would stop and pick up a bag of apples in the fall at our local farm market, and eat not less than one on my trip back to college in Michigan.  A few years ago my daughter wanted that apple-picking experience and we were hard-pressed to find an orchard, let along one that would let you pick from their trees.
Our 2009 trip to the orchard
I don't think it's a matter of waxing nostalgic when I say I wish for yesterday, at least as far as this matter is concerned.  I think it's a basic instinct to want a stronger connection to the land, to understand the seed, the tree, the food of which you partake.  I think it's something our Creator put in us.  Maybe that's why fall harvest time has us longing for something we seek out in pumpkin patches, corn mazes, and the like.  Enjoy this time of the year.  I know I do.

08 October 2014

Then Pennsylvania Railroad in Warsaw, Indiana

A view along the Pennsylvania Railroad and Jefferson Street, in Warsaw, in c. 1910.  The depot is on the right and the Haines Hotel is on the left.
 The Pennsylvania Railroad through Warsaw, Indiana has a great collection of railroad structures.  Due to the alignment's push down the middle of a four block section of Jefferson Street, an urban "vista" is produced that is one of the nicest feeling, step-back-into-time sorta experiences one could have on the Pennsy.  A steel girder truss bridge forms a viaduct unlike any other along this route.  The viaduct formed at Columbia Street was a product of the Bethlehem Steel Corporation erected in 1929.  Most of the Pennsy's viaducts have a single span with no intermediate supports, only the stone abutments.  At Columbia Street the railroad provided for pedestrian walkways with a steel frame that separates the road from the sidewalk.  And then they did the unthinkable, they incorporated a bit of flare in the design with half-arched brackets to support the girders.
The viaduct at Columbia Street.  A plaque in the upper right corner indicates it was built in 1929.
This type of steel girder truss bridge on stone abutments is pretty common along the route.  Most date to about 1890-1905.  The design of the late arrival at Columbia Street I think shows the building success and popularity of the railroad in the public's mind.....the structure became a piece of civic pride.  Sanborn fire insurance maps indicate there was a steel bridge at this location as early as 1892; a similar viaduct on the Pennsy was enlarged in Plymouth in about 1890.

Detail of the 1929 bridge
 It was an exceptionally cold and snowy day on our Pennsylvania Railroad structures reconnaissance mission.  Which was unfortunate because I probably could have hung out in the four block Jefferson Street section for awhile waiting for a train to come through-just to get a sense of what it was like.  Unlike most of the locations along the Pennsy in Indiana, the alignment's routing down the middle of a street, or the street's alignment straddling the railroad (which came first, I do not know) provided an opportunity for commercial establishments to locate immediately on the route.

Same view as the old post card, but from the opposite direction
 In this view, facing east, the railroad constructed their depot (on the left and below) in 1893.  The 1892 Sanborn map of this location shows an empty plot of land with "depot to be built here".  Across the street the Haines family constructed a hotel (right side) shortly after the depot was built.  Brick pavers still form the platform around the depot from which people boarded the train, though the canopy is long gone.  The style applied to the depot came to dominate design for new depots constructed by the Pennsylvania Railroad.  It has Colonial formality but borrows from Victorian-era Queen Anne design as well.

The Penn Depot, 1893, in Warsaw today.
 The house below screams railroad hotel or boarding house.  It is a great example of Italianate design, a style whose popularity rose with the economic boon most towns experienced with the coming of the railroad era.  Since the Pennsy was built in 1856, the bones of this old place may go back to as early as c. 1865.  It is located further west of the depot and viaduct.  And you can see in this picture, it had started to snow.

Another possible railroad boarding house, c. 1865, west of Columbia Street.

01 October 2014

T. S. Turney was here: 1904


I have a problem purely of my own making.  At times I can get a bit bored so I like to give myself "projects".  I have a lot of these, and often they go unfinished.  Such was the case when I decided to complete a survey of all of the Pennsylvania Railroad structures across Indiana.  This would have been from the 1856 line that largely parallels U.S. 30 today.  I worked with a budding historian, began in the middle of the route (Plymouth) and worked our way east to the state line.  We came up a few miles short before it was time to turn around and head home.

The survey yielded some great architectural finds.  We documented nearly 40 railroad-related structures on this line.  However, my biggest interest was in the stone bridge work that dominated the Pennsy line during their reconstruction of the route in about 1900.  The massive rusticated stone abutments and arches have always held a certain charm and engineering interest for me.  So, I was all in.

The legacy bridge between Atwood and Etna Green
Between Etna Green and Atwood we duly noted a railroad bridge with the typical rusticated (rough stone face) blocks that composed the bridge abutments.  However, this one was different.  It didn't serve as a bridge over a road or creek-it just seemed to straddle, well, nothing.  So in our photo documentation is seemed reasonable to walk under the bridge to check out the stone work.  I have seen chisel marks and other tooling marks that made me believe there was some carved instructions to assembly.  But, I had never seen century-old graffiti.  This was a legacy bridge.

Creating a stone bridge for a railroad, 1890
I couldn't have imagined how hard it was to find a photo of bridge-building by railroads!
The stonework under this bridge was loaded with the initials and names of, what I had presumed, were the builders of these bridges across the Pennsy.  These were all marked with the date 1904.  In later bridge investigations, we turned up only a handful of names on all other bridges combined.  So I had to wonder-was this the last of the bridges built by this crew?  Was it here that they were going to leave their mark for posterity?

A Baltimore & Ohio Railroad-building crew from c. 1920.
Unfortunately few of the names could be deciphered well.  I came back with three names:  T. S. Turney, J. E. Belliet, and Ben H. Frost.  I did as much on-line investigative work as reasonably possible and only Mr. Turney provided a solid lead.  So, for your reading pleasure, here is the life of T. S. Turney.

 I found that he was Truman S. Turney, born near Accident, Maryland in 1877 to a farming family.  He appeared in the 1880 census with his family and then reappeared in the 1900 census in Antelope, Nebraska as a laborer for the railroad.  He was single and probably lived in a boarding house or hotel as the crew was passing through.  Mr. Turney disappeared from the 1910 census, though I think it is likely he was on a crew passing through and was missed by census takers.  He was also married about that time and made it all the way to Greybull, Wyoming where he lived out the rest of his life.  He enlisted for the draft in 1918, though I'm not certain he was called to active service.  He worked for the Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy Railroad which went through Greybull in 1905.  He became an engineer for the railroad and retired from it in 1945.  He died in 1947.  His obituary stated that he "went west at the age of 19 and began railroad work in 1911".  My guess is that was when he was employed by the railroad versus a contractor building bridges for the Pennsy.

Greybull, Wyoming in 1909
I have to admit, this was an enjoyable investigation.  I sent a message to a descendant who manages an ancestry.com site for the family mentioning the photo of the carving I had.  My concern is that railroads are notoriously lousy preservationists, let alone maintainists (I made that word up).  The railroad already covered a section of the old stone work from the 1850s in Plymouth.  I should hope that at the very least we capture more of the names inscribed on these old bridges before neglect forever erases them from our consciousness.  I'll do a follow-up with some of the structures along the Pennsy soon.  And maybe one day be able to survey the other half of the state.

24 September 2014

It is not the critic who counts

Hall of Champions, NCAA
This past week brought yet another stellar series by Ken Burns on PBS.  I have been, for some time, a big fan of Teddy Roosevelt.  When weighing the presidents I most admired, Ronald Reagan's star faded from this wide-eyed teenager/college student...a student of politics as much as architecture, as I began life outside of academia.  And the more I learned about TR, the more I saw myself living parallel with his brand of politics.

A number of my friends know this about me, so it came as no surprise last week when my more liberal friends chastised me on TR's imperialism and my conservative friends chastised me on his trust-busting and labor sympathizing roles.  I figure heck, if he managed to make everyone both love and hate him-he had to be all right.


I've never been an athlete.  I've never known the sting of defeat nor the elation of victory in an arena or on the field of play.  I have experienced it in the political arena.  And I have known it in both business and in any number of community endeavors over the last 20 years.  TR had a lot of noteworthy quotes, but one excerpt of a speech he gave in France in 1910, may be his most famous and is certainly my favorite.  I was pleased to see it encircling the rotunda of the NCAA Hall of Champions when we visited Indianapolis this summer.  This is the most quoted portion of the speech:


It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. 

Several weeks ago an issue arose in our community that pit neighbor against neighbor.  Calmer heads were able to discuss this with a level of civility, but I was taken back by the depth and lack of civility that followed much of the dialogue found on social media outlets and in public meetings.  And what most concerned me was, if this rather small issue can tear at the fabric of our community, what happens when something big comes along?

I feel like we've become a people who find it easy to take a stand, welling up adversity with jarring and often inaccurate words rather than doing the hard work of making our community a better place, understanding issues, and then rolling up our sleeves to make something tangible instead of empty words hurled over the internet for our own satisfaction of reading them on a screen.  And yes, I realize the irony of typing that statement on a blog.  All the same, these critics have not entered the arena, and it would seem TR suggests they simply don't count.  This community needs more than critics on the sidelines, we need doers of deeds.

17 September 2014

Court is in Session

Boone County Courthouse rotunda, Lebanon, Indiana

I try to make a point of visiting county courthouses whenever I land in a county seat I had not previously been in.  Only in the last few years did I make a point of photographing them.  There's a bit of chance involved since you never know what the weather will be, or if the doors will be open.  Here are a few pictures from courthouses I've been in in the last year.  Two are of the Neoclassical trend in architecture at the turn of the century, while the third is of the Romanesque Revival style which became synonymous with courthouse architecture at the end of the 19th century.

Boone County Courthouse, built 1909-1911

Union County Courthouse, Liberty, Indiana

Union County Courthouse, 1890-1891

Union County Courtroom

Carroll County Courthouse, Delphi, Indiana

Carroll County Courthouse, rotunda floor

Carroll County Courthouse rotunda, 1916-1917

10 September 2014

Getting in touch with my "Plain" roots

Hochstetler Reunion at Old Samuel Hochstetler's Farm c. 1850, in 1913
 Earlier this year our preservation organization began discussing what we might do to participate in the state's upcoming bicentennial.  We landed on a concept that would include highlighting the history of one group, and their architecture, that hadn't previously been recorded in the nearly 200 years of our county.  That group is the Amish, who first began to settle here in 1850.  So, someone from the genealogical society set up a meeting with this group's local historian and sent me a message with the place and time.
Samuel Hochstetler barn, 1850
And then I realized that it was the farm of my ancestor, Samuel Hochstetler, that we would be visiting.  This man's son now live in the house with his family.  During our visit the man unrolled a photo I hadn't seen before, of the farmstead and extended Hochstetler family, from 1913.  A grandson, who also had an appreciation for their history, gave me a tour of the house and barn.  What a surreal feeling stepping into the house and barn built by my great, great, great grandfather over 150 years ago.
Jonas Yoder barn detail, 1852
Jonas Yoder farmhouse, c. 1880
We made a return trip to visit with the Amish historian.  This time we wanted to stop and document what remains of the "first families" farms of the Amish community.  There were four farms of the first four Amish families to settle in our county northeast of Bremen.  These are the Samuel Hochstetler, Jonas Yoder, John Borkholder, and Valentine Yoder family farms, along with their Amish school and cemetery.  Samuel's family was the first to arrive in 1850, though a scouting party of the church had come to Indiana in 1841.

At the grave of my great, great, great grandfather-Samuel Hochstetler
The historian also pointed out Samuel's grave-which I had not previously been able to locate because the inscription is long gone.  Of the four original farms, three of the c. 1855 barns remain and two of the original homes; both Samuel's house and barn survive, but the house has been added to.  A third house was the second built by Jonas Yoder, after a fire in about 1880.  That's a pretty good testament to preservation by the Amish community.

03 September 2014

Sumthin' 'bout a truck

On vacation in the rolling hills of Brown County State Park
I've nursed this little Mazda my wife got while in college along for many years, but when the mechanic told me "if you don't put a bullet in it, I will", I figured it was time to pull the trigger.  I've driven it longer than any other car in my life-for nearly 14 years, after it replaced an F-150 I bought when I settled down in River City.

And boy did I ever miss that truck.  More than the Mustang I had in college, did I ever miss that black, F-150 extended cab pick-up truck.  So in late March, when the Mazda was given its death sentence, I kept my eyes open for another truck.  But with the election and work, I never got around to really looking until the end of May.  And then I found it-another black, F-150 extended cab-4-wheel drive.  And I was hooked, though I tried not to let the salesman see it in my eyes as we walked past it and my head turned 180 degrees.

When we landed on a price, and they gave me a trade-in, sight-unseen, I figured I had made out all-right.  And when the Mazda broke down halfway between here and the dealership, and they offered to tow it in, I knew I had made out ok.

The truck looks quite at home here on the farm.  And she's already been everywhere man (reference to a Johnny Cash song):  Indy, Ft. Wayne, lil' Nashville, hauling a kayak to Sugar Creek, Lebanon-and points between.  All of a sudden transporting tables and chairs and my extension ladder to my dad's became so much easier.  And it seems more appropriate to be driving it up the hill behind the barn than the Mazda, may she rest in piece.

29 August 2014

Summer? What summer?

Waiting for the parade to start under the watchful eye of the elephant
 You know that point of time in your life when everything that seems superfluous has to go out the window in order for you to regain some semblance of control?  That's what happened to me, and consequently Hoosier Happenings, at the beginning of May.  It was an incredibly busy Spring with the campaign and then it was as if a dam broke and I was up to my eyeballs in work.  Not complaining by any stretch, but something had to give.

That something was my whole summer.  At least that's what it felt like.  And while I missed blogging, the fact is, I don't know that I had the mental concentration to make even a sloppy attempt at a decent post.  Here's my attempt, after a nearly four-month long hiatus.

May.  May brought with it the primary election for county commissioner, in which I was a candidate among four.  I could bore you with all of the political wrangling that took place, but I won't.  I will tell you that there was no one more surprised than I when the returns came in at the GOP election-watch, and I was on top.  Since the Democrats decided not to slate anyone at the end of June, I stand unopposed in November, and assuming I'll get at least one vote, will be sworn in in January.  I spent three days picking up my signs in May.  I plan to put out a lot less in October.

May also brought our family reunion and the departure of my brother's family for Fiji.  Work opened up for me in Lebanon, Attica, and Zionsville-which required a trip south.....and since I was in the area, it culminated with the first of three trips this summer in a kayak down Sugar Creek.  By the end of the month, I bought a truck.....this too shall be blogged.

June.  The Historic Michigan Road Association, along with the Indiana Lincoln Highway Association, hosted the Indiana Byways Conference for which a reception was held in our barn.  By the end of the month a group of six guys headed back to Sugar Creek and a 2-night stint in a tent.  This time, we saw two eagles.

On vacation in lil' Nashville
July brought parades in Bremen and Culver, marching alongside a massive elephant, and the 4-H fair, handing out snowcones.  Three birthdays.  One vacation which went way too fast.  And many more projects than I could count.  By this point, I realized I was missing summer.  I did have a pretty amazing experience when I walked into my Amish ancestral home, by pure chance.  That story will be blogged.  My wife went to Haiti, and I found another opportunity to kayak Sugar Creek.

At the state fair
August.  I provided presentations at two Indiana Landmarks events, one local event, and accepted National Register certificates on behalf of River City at the state fair.  More projects, which included an investigative trip on the River Queen, the Elkhart River Queen that is.  A return trip with an overnight stay in Lebanon.  Two more birthdays, including our poor old wiener dog who turned 15.  One more parade, in Bourbon.  And by the end of the month I had moved up to a big-boy phone.  I'm still trying to figure out how to use it.  I also went to drainage school and it lived up to my expectations....however, it gave me a chance to see an old friend in Plainfield that I hadn't seen in 3 years.  The new U.S. 31 also opened for traffic....also blog-worthy.  And no, I couldn't escape the ALS ice bucket challenge.

The fall looks almost as busy, but maybe more manageable.  Which should permit me to get back to blogging.  Meanwhile, it's blueberry time around here....and that offers its own busy schedule for parades, parties, and so on.  Have a great Labor Day, remember the worker who built this country, and I'll see you in September.

10 May 2014

V


Blogging will resume soon.  Many thanks to to good folks of my county for making me the Republican nominee for county commissioner.  On to November.

07 May 2014

Lessons from the campaign trail


First off....for the record....it is 10:10 a.m. on election day.  I've already voted and have no idea what the outcome will be.  I say that because if I win in the Republican primary tonight, I don't want this to come across as gloating.  And if I lose, I don't want this to come across as sour grapes.  This post will go up tomorrow win or lose.  This is intended to be both therapeutic for me and seasoned with humor.

Here are several observations I've made from stumping on the campaign trail.

I should maybe drop my middle name from my campaign literature.  I'm not sure how, but some people get confused that I'm running for the west precinct, or West Township, or some other office related to being in or of "west".  I thank my great-grandfather, Wesley, for the confusion and in turn he can thank John Wesley.

Or maybe I should just change my name to that of a candy bar.  In speaking with one lady at Marbucks (our Martins grocery has a Starbucks in it...hence my name for it), and engaging in several important issues with her, she indicated that one of the other candidates gave her a candy bar so she committed her vote to him.  Based on the issues important to her seems like a bad trade for a candy bar.  I'm not going to buy votes with candy bars.

But I will buy votes with shamrock shakes.  One young man I teach Sunday School with turned 18 several months ago, so I said, John, we need to get you registered to vote.  I offered to help him through the process at the clerk's office and suggested afterward we could grab a cup of coffee or something-thinking it would be great to get to know him a little better.  But, time was of the essence the day he registered, so we just went through the drive-thru and I bought him a shamrock shake.

I attempted a grass-roots campaign with social media.  I now owe over 100 Facebook friends a major party since they met my challenge of 100 shares of my campaign video.  I honestly didn't think it would happen.

Lots of folks have offered to pray for me...and that's great and all....but I sure am hoping the roughly 20 nuns I sat down with to discuss the current state of politics in the county are thinking of me today.  I can't think of a better defensive line, nor can I recall feeling more at home ideologically when we met.  Maybe it was because there was apple pie and coffee involved.  God bless 'em.

Shameless self promotion is a difficult thing for an introvert.

When my wife and I voted, my mother came in the doors to the community hall......without my dad.  "Mom, where's dad?"  I asked.  "I don't know....he was supposed to come with me, but I think he's in Bremen."  My dad avoids things like this....he, along with a LOT of other Hoosiers, don't like to have to declare party affiliation.  It seems like there could be a way around this.  Meanwhile, I've been driving around for the last 3 hours trying to find him to escort him to the polls.

I already know that I have lost the used car lot vote.  If used car lots, mechanics garages, muffler shops, etc. can vote I am in big trouble.  All three of my fellow-candidates are in those lines of work and without hardly an exception these establishments have one or a combination of their political signs.  Notice:  I am in the market for a low-mileage truck....part of the deal includes removing my competition's signs.

Speaking of signs....one thing that has always rubbed me raw is the willful violation of the city and county sign ordinance which prohibits signs from being placed on any public property or right-of-way.  So I am extremely cautious about where my signs go.  The other guys-not so much.  I've never understood how people can vote for someone entrusted to uphold the law when they knowingly break it.  But, hey, sticking to my principles-win or lose.

Adversity builds character.  It also costs a great deal of time and money.  Things like having "late ad" boldly printed over your newspaper ad, the wind mysteriously taking away both signs and wire frames planted a foot into the ground, and finally receiving the Republican mailing list the morning after your mailer landed in voters' mailboxes are all great lessons in character development.

Based on my door to door glad-handing, I may well be related to one-quarter of the county.  Heck, one of my competitors is a cousin.

I can only handle so much fish.  Though last Saturday was a spaghetti supper.  Oddly enough, I was the only politician there but after getting a tongue-lashing from one older gentleman about not attending "HIS church's fish fry", and consequently losing his vote, I figured I had better attend HIS church's spaghetti supper Saturday night.  The supper was a benefit for the church.  On Monday morning I saw him at Marbucks.  I asked "Hey, why weren't YOU at YOUR church's spaghetti supper?"  The other old folks at the table got a good laugh out of that one.

What would you expect to be the most frequently asked question on the campaign trail?  Taxes?  Roads?  Economic development?  Nope.  Not even close.  The most frequently asked question was "How are you going to be able to get along with those other commissioners?"  Telling.

Some folks were disinterested during my door to door campaigning.  Only one was hostile.  I apologized and told my mom that I would be back to pick the kids up later.

One lady was truly confused.  She let me know that she had already voted for someone else but couldn't understand how I could be on the Republican ticket.  She said "Aren't you a democrat?!"  I said, nooo.  She said "Well you used to be a democrat!"  I said, nooo...you must have me confused with someone else.  Still with a bit cross and confused look in her face I said "Well-the Republican mayor appointed me to the plan commission way back, and then I ran and won my city council seat on the Republican ticket."  Hoping that would persuade her.  Then she said her name.  Ooops....oh yeah....her husband and I differed on a pretty major issue 14 years ago and I didn't tow the party line.  That's me-guilty as charged.

Fortuitous and timely.  That describes my visit to the assisted living facility the day before they voted.  My wife says I have a great rapport with older folks.  I think it's because I have an old soul.  And I also have an exhaustive wealth of useless historical information about most towns and buildings in a 20 mile radius.

While on the trail....I asked if one individual would vote for me.  He countered with "did you vote for me?"  I wanted to so badly ask if that was his litmus test because I'm thinking he might have been surprised by a few answers he would have gotten from others.

I have avoided "gauntlet style" campaigning where one would lay in wait for unsuspecting voters going in or out of a fish fry or other venue.  I would much rather go in and break bread with neighbors and friends and get to know a handful who may or may not vote for me.  To me, that's what building community looks like.  It may not win elections-but it is better for the soul.

Finally-there are good people all throughout our county with some really wonderful stories.  I'll be humbled either way tonight when the results come in.  If I lose, that will be a humbling experience for certain....but if I win, or lose for that matter, I will be and have been humbled by the kind words and support that I've been shown by folks who I've gotten to know recently or have known for years.  And it makes me wonder if people just talked with each other......if we just worked together......how much better our communities would be.